Happy New Year to all of you! I do hope you were able to enjoy the break, take time for yourself, your family, and your friends. I know that the year ahead holds a great deal of hope and anticipation but that those feelings are mixed with the worry and fear that things are still not as they should be. As teachers, we face uncertainty and concern that we aren’t doing enough, but are working harder than we have ever worked before. It’s going to get better, I believe that. And in the meantime, be kind to yourself. Do what you can and know that it’s enough.
I’m happy to know that my OLLI lessons are proving helpful for both your online and in-class lessons. Hoping these New Year’s lessons (one for Primary and one for Intermediate) will help you and your students find ways to launch into 2021 with a positive outlook!
Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books:
OLLI#1 (The Hike)
OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)
OLLIE#3 (Mother’s Day)
OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)
OLLI #5 – (WANTED: Criminals of the Animal Kingdom)
OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)
OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)
OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day)
OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!)
OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)
OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)
OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)
OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)
It’s New Years – and that is always a time for us to reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead. While we have faced many challenges in 2020, there were some “silver linings” that unfolded as well. Reflecting and being grateful for those moments and events is an important exercise for our students (and for all of us!). Moving into 2021 with a positive outlook will help your students begin the new year with a little hope.
The Lesson – New Year’s Resolutions (Primary)
Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution – Pat Miller
As Squirrel makes visits around the forest, she learns about New Year’s resolutions and helps her friends get started on theirs. If only she can think of a resolution of her very own! This book introduces the concept of “New Year’s Resolutions” to younger students and a good one to share during the first week back.
Start the Lesson:
- Write the words “New Year’s Resolution” on the board and invite students to share their ideas about what it means. Discuss why people might make resolutions for the New Year.
- Brainstorm some typical resolutions that adults often make: ie – lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, get more sleep, read more, play less video games, etc.
- Discuss why resolutions may be hard to keep. (ie – habits are hard to break, etc)
- Share the book “Squirrel’s Year’s Resolutions” (in print or on YouTube)
- After viewing or reading the story, review what a resolution is. Add any new ideas to the board.
- Explain that making a resolution at the start of a new year can help you set a goal to try to become a better person. Discuss that the resolution should be something realistic and attainable
- Brainstorm some possible resolutions –
- keep my room cleaner
- help around the house more – offer to help
- read more books
- do my homework after school not after dinner
- call my grandma once a week
- play less video games
- be nicer to my brother
- Pass out the template New Year’s Resolutions – Squirrel and Me! Download the template HERE
- On one side, they draw and write about Squirrel’s resolution, on the other side, they write their own. Model your own on the whiteboard or chart stand.
- My 2021 Selfie, adapted from a lesson in Powerful Understanding (Self), is an optional art activity. Download the template HERE
The Lesson – Highlights, Lowlights, Insights, Goals (Intermediate)
Supporting your students to reflect on their learning and behaviour independently will help them become well-rounded individuals as they move through their schooling and beyond. Helping students to develop “reflective habits of mind” is a key component in education now and the start of a new year is an excellent opportunity to begin this practice. (For more ideas on developing reflection in your classroom click HERE)
- Explain that a New Year is an opportunity to look back at some of the things that happened last year, reflect on them (both the good and the bad) and learn from them. This reflection can help us learn, grow, set goals and take action.
- Explain that a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.
- Write the words “HIGHLIGHTS, “LOWLIGHTS”, “INSIGHTS” and “GOALS” across the top of your white board. Explain that 2020 was certainly a year of challenges and “lowlights” but reflecting on the “silver lining” can help us gain new perspective and insight.
- Brainstorm some of the highlights of last year.
- no school
- went to the park more
- more time with family
- learned to play cards, knit, play piano
- lots of video games
- Brainstorm some lowlights of the past year:
- no school
- no hockey (sports)
- lots of people got sick, died
- couldn’t see friends or grandparents
- no school
- no holidays
- crowded in the house
- broke my arm
- Discuss what an insight is: something you learn based on your experiences and your reflections. Example – you and your best friend stop speaking and you don’t know why. You think about it for a while, reflect on the last couple of months, and your realize that you have not been very kind, not responding to texts, teasing a little, picking fights. You ask yourself why? After thinking about it for a while, your insight is that your friend was doing better in school and you were a little jealous. So you started being just a little mean because you were trying to somehow get back at him/her.
- Explain that insight comes from thoughtful reflection. When we gain insight, we can become more aware of our actions and what we can do differently. The result is we become a better, stronger person.
- Ask students: What insights have we gained this year, during the pandemic? What have we learned about ourselves? What surprised us? What will we do differently, now that we know more about it?
- Explain that our insights can help us set goals for the future. Model example:
- HIGHLIGHT – we didn’t have to go to school for a few months
- LOWLIGHT – I missed seeing my friends and teachers
- INSIGHT – School is actually an important part of my life and I shouldn’t take it for granted
- GOAL – I am going to appreciate school more and work harder.
- Pass out template “My New Year’s Resolutions 2021“. Download the template HERE
- “My 2021 Selfie”, adapted from a lesson in Powerful Understanding (Self), is an optional art activity. Download the template HERE
Additional Books to Celebrate the New Year: (check YouTube for online versions)
The Night Before New Year’s – Natasha Wing
Natasha Wing’s “Night Before” series is a favorite with young readers. The Night Before New Years is a fun story about how a family celebrates this special evening.
People around the world have different customs to welcome in the new year. Learn the history of New Year’s Day, and read about all of the different traditions that make it fun! This is definitely a must for your New Year’s book list if you are teaching students about traditions and customs!
Bringing in the New Year – Grace Lin
This lively, colorful story follows a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. A perfect introduction to this holiday for young readers.
P. Bear’s New Year’s Party – A Counting Book – Paul Owen Lewis
This book counts down to New Year’s Eve, while teaching numbers, counting, and telling time! This book is popular with teachers, and students will enjoy the story and the simple illustrations.
In her quest to find some black-eyed peas, Shante discovers the different ways that her neighbors celebrate the New Year. A story of diversity and traditions that children will really enjoy.
Thanks for stopping by! Hope this lesson helps you as you start your first week of 2021.
Wishing you all a safe and healthy New Year!
Stay tuned for an upcoming post to help your students set some Reading Resolutions for 2021!